38 answers

Extra for a Toddler Sitting in Lap?

Okay ladies I need help on this one!!! I have been searching for information on setting up a flight from Texas up North but I notice that it does not give me an option to mention that I am taking my 2 year IN MY LAP!! He's still small for his age and it would be a waste to take up a whole seat for him if I know he would not sit in it (this is his very first time flying!!!) He'd be sitting with either myself or my husband in our laps. I called an agent last night but I am not even sure if she understood my question..all she said was to continue with the booking and call back ..but since he's 2???? I keep seeing that they charge a "child's fare" which I think is rediculous but if we have to, we have to..has anyone gone through this i'm litterally freaking out right now..I can't leave my baby behind because we have no one to help us with babysitting so that is not an option!!!

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Thank you all for your input. We have gone to the airport and asked and called travelocity and asked and were given the same answer, we will not be charged extra for holding him in our lap (on one flight it is a 2 seater per row) as long as we take his birth certificate proving that he is 2. After much consideration though we are just taking emergency money with us just in case they do hassle us and things change within the month. I guess it all just depends on the airline.

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If they're 2, they have to have a ticket, and be prepared, the airline will ask for a birth certificate. We had to have the hospital fax one to the airline to prove that my granddaughter was only 21 months old.

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Unfortunately once they are two you are required to buy a childs ticket for them even if they are small for their age. Even for infants on the lap there is a small charge I believe which is like 10% of the ticket fare.

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Yes, as far as I know , all airlines start charging for a seat for 2 year olds. I know it's an extra cost, but you can take a carseat on and you may love not having him on you the whole time. I don't think the airlines do it just to make money, it's a weight consideration and a seatbelt thing.

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Hi C.-

Hopefully you'll receive a more definitive answer from someone in the know but my understanding (at least of the airlines that I have flown) is that at 2 years old you do need to purchase a ticket for the child. Prior to 2 they can fly on your lap for free. Now, whether or not they ask for any proof of age at the gate I don't know but I do believe at 2 you have to purchase a ticket. I believe airlines have to set an age limit so that parents who are trying to save money don't ride with a 4 or 5 year old (or older) on their laps.

You know your child better than I do, but we have flown 3 times with our children at various ages from 6 months up and have always purchased a seat and brought their carseat for them to sit in. They usually sleep and it's much more comfortable for mom and dad, too. Also, in case of turbulence or a rough landing they are much safer.

Good luck,

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For any child over 2 years old, you must purchase a seat for them and they must be sitting in it with their seat belts on for take off and landing or any other time the seat belt sign is lit up. If they turn off the sign, you would be allowed to have him in your lap, but even for a small 2 year old, I can tell you it is super uncomfortable. I hope this answers your question at least. You do need to purchase a seat for him.

Oh, and the child's fare is pretty bogus. It's a percentage off of a full fare ticket and if you buy your tickets online you can usually find a cheaper ticket than what they offer for the child's fare. Good luck and have a fun trip!

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I would suggest that you call the airline again to verify what the agent means by "up to two". I have been a travel agent for over 10 years and I know of NO airline, domestic or foreign, that allows a child to travel as a lap passenger without paying once they have reached the age of 2. "Up to two" means that they must be less than 2 years old. If 2 year olds were allowed to fly as lap passengers, they would say "age 2 and younger". Every airline I have dealings with say "once the child reaches their 2nd birthday, they have to purchase a seat". Regardless of whether the child sits in your lap or not, once they are 2 years old, they are required to purchase a seat.

As for a child fare, unless you are traveling on an international flight, the child's ticket will cost the same as yours if you purchase a non-refundable excursion fare. Child discounts on domestic tickets, if available, are typically only discounted off of the full fare ticket, not the non-refundable lower cost ticket.

You say your child is "small for his age", so you may be able to pass him off as UNDER 2 years if you get the right gate agent. But, if they question you, you will need to be prepared to pay up for his ticket. We had a client once whose child was 18 months old and large for his age. They questioned the parents and were going to make them purchase a ticket for the child. Thankfully the mom just happened to have a copy of the child's birth certificate to prove that the child had not reached their 2nd birthday.

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Unfortunately once they are two you are required to buy a childs ticket for them even if they are small for their age. Even for infants on the lap there is a small charge I believe which is like 10% of the ticket fare.

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All airlines require that you buy a seat for any child over the age of 2. I have traveled over 8 times with my young boys and I realize that at age 2 they do sit in your lap the whole time, but, the airline makes you buy a seat. I think only southwest airlines offers a child based fare, but you have to call them to book and get that rate. I know it makes it more expensive and you will likely not use the seat, but for some reason, that is the airlines policy. Use the space wisely for things like a small pillow and play area while you travel. Good luck with the flights.

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If they're 2, they have to have a ticket, and be prepared, the airline will ask for a birth certificate. We had to have the hospital fax one to the airline to prove that my granddaughter was only 21 months old.

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I'm amazed that everyone is focused on the issue of a 2 year old not being able to sit on your lap for the flight and no one has brought up how incredibly unsafe that is! Since he is over 2 and you will have to pay, make sure you bring a FAA approved car seat (most of them are) so he can be as safe as possible. Safety should always trump money. Have a great trip!

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A toddler 2 years old is required to have a seat. Most airlines require you put in a date of birth when you choose that you have a lap child. Most times it will ask is there a child under 13 flying and you choose yes and that is where they ask the DOB and if the child is a lap child or if they have their own seat. My 2 year old son and I travel monthly. A couple of suggestions on getting lower airfare is to buy your tickets on Tuesday or Wednesday. If you can fly on Tuesday or Wednesday or Saturday your fare will be less than traveling on Thursday. Most fares are most expensive traveling on Friday and Sunday.The further time from travel you purchase ticket the less expensive it is. There are flights you can buy on sale and change planes that will save you money but your time to travel is longer since you have to connect. With a 2 year old it is easier to travel on direct flights and at nap times if possible. Sign up with the airline you are wanting to travel to get their emails and that is a good way to see their sales. Best of luck. If you have other questions, feel free to email me.

All airlines that I know of will not let you take a child over 2 on your lap.

every time i've looked into flights they make you purchase a childs ticket once they turn 2. they can ask for proof of the childs age also. i believe you also have to have the child in the seat buckled whenever the seat belt sign is on. (i've had flight attendants make me take my child out of the unoccupied seat next to me while the seat belt sign was on and hold her b/c she was considered a lap child.) i understand the frustration of having to buy a ticket. i have to buy one at thanksgiving b/c mine will be 25 months....

Yes, as far as I know , all airlines start charging for a seat for 2 year olds. I know it's an extra cost, but you can take a carseat on and you may love not having him on you the whole time. I don't think the airlines do it just to make money, it's a weight consideration and a seatbelt thing.

Hi C., after travelling with my 2 and 10 year olds on a plane the airlines will require you to buy a seat for the 2 year old. Yes they look incredibly small in that hugh seat but they will make you do it. If your travelling with a car seat and a stroller on the plane be prepared to send them through the x-ray machine cause that's what the did with me.

I've flown Southwest a few tiomes with my kids and their policy is any child UNDER 2 can ride in your lap for free. If the child is OVER 2, regardless of size, you have to buy them a seat. The FFA requires that you bring his/her birth certificate as proof of I.D. so you won't be able to 'fudge' it.

Unfortunately, if your son has already turned two, you have to purchase him his own ticket. See more below:

"A child between the ages of three days old until their second birthday is considered a lap child and does not need to pay for a seat.

Once a child has their second birthday, they are no longer considered a lap child and a seat must be purchased in order for them to travel. If the child has their second birthday between the outbound and return flight, a seat will need to be purchased for the return flight.

Customers traveling with a lap child could be asked for proof of age, such as a passport, birth certificate (copies are acceptable for domestic travel) or an immunization record when the infant's age is questionable."

As far as I know, on every airline under any circumstances regarding size, etc. if your child is 2 or older you must purchase them a seat and if it within the US it will be full price. They also have the right to ask for proof of age when you check in if you haven't purchased him a ticket.

What is the airline? I'd call again to be certain. I have flown southwest, airtran, delta and jetblue and all have required me to buy a ticket. I even had a note from my daughter's doctor because she is so tiny she wouldn't fit safely in a seat and I STILL had to buy her a seat even though she sat on my lap the whole time. I'd love to know who you are flying with because my baby is still under 3 and I have some upcoming flights I'd love to not have to buy her a ticket for!

Unless something has changed, you shouldn't have to pay anything extra for having a child with you that will be in your lap. You are only supposed to have to pay if you are wanting another seat for them. I took my son and daughter with me when he was about 1 1/2 years old, and she was still a newborn. I had someone else with me and the two of us held each child during the flight. I didn't have to pay extra for either of them. I'm guessing there is an age limit. I would check with the airline directly instead of the agent just to be sure. If you know which airline you are going to you should be able to either find the information online or call the airline directly. Hope this helps.


HI! I have flown several times w/ my daughter when she was around that age. At the time, her fare was free. But so much has happened since then that I think they are now charging for children that young (I'm not 100% sure about the age that they are charging for now). You would need to call the airline and ask what age they start charging for airfare. Now, I can say that regardless of whether or not the child will be sitting in your lap, you do have to pay. What I would do is take the car seat on the plane and your child can sit in it plus it adds more safety. I did that a couple of times as well. We always fly Southwest and I think on their site it says the age they charge for airfare. I would start there (w/ the airline). Good luck!

If your child has already turned 2, you have no choice but to pay for his/her seat. Only children under 2 can ride in an adult's lap for free. Sorry!

If he's small, I would just book a flight and say you have a lap child. I've never seen them request a birth certificate to prove age.

I wish the age were 3 but unfortunately, once the child turns 2, you have to buy him a seat (same rule applies on every airline I've ever flown on). They will often ask for his birth certificate (if your child is under 2) to make sure people aren't trying to pull one over.


If your child is 2 or older most airlines require that you purchase a ticket. Only under 2 year olds can sit in your lap. Size does not matter. I recently took my 2 year old boys on a trip and they loved sitting in the seat. There is also enough room for a little nap if necessary. Best of luck.

Unfortunatly any child over the age of 2 you have to pay for and you have to bring shot record or copy of birth certificate inorder to prove age so you can even try to pass him as younger then 2!! GOODLUCK!

I can tell you that you will have to pay for the extra seat. A child is not allowed in your lap during take off and landing. They use to have discounted rates for that age but I don't know if they still do or not.

Many airlines, including Southwest, make you buy an adult ticket for children who are 2 and older. I paid full fare for my 3-year-old daughter to fly to Florida with me to see her grandparents. If you can afford it, I'd also recommend that you buy your son a seat. Flying is tough enough with a toddler. Believe me, I've done it both ways and it's A LOT tougher with the toddler in your lap. You'll have more room and ease with the seat.

Good luck. They should give discounts for young children, but too many don't. Unfortunately, that's the state of plane travel these days!

You MUST buy a ticket for any child over the age of 2. Period. Sometimes they discount the ticket, depends on the airline. Lap sitters are under 2 years old.

You CAN bring an FAA approved (most are) car seat for him to sit in.

Relax and let him experience the flight on his own. If he has his car seat, he will feel comfortable (it has to be a 5pt harness, not a booster). He will feel your anxiety. He will be fine and you will be more comfortable with him off your lap. It is MUCH safer for him if he is in his own seat strapped into his very familiar car seat. Make it fun and exciting, because it is! The car seat will have to go by the window and you will not be allowed to sit in the exit row, but other than that, there are no restrictions.

Have Fun!!!

You have to buy a ticket, only kids under 2 get to ride on your lap for free... it sucks but thats the way it is!

No matter what size your 2 yr.old is they are going to charge you for another seat! Airlines start charging when a child turns 2! I know it sucks to pay for that seat even though he/she won't sit in it but those are the rules! We flew from Austin to VA. and my 2 yr. old (at the time) sat in my lap or my husbands the entire trip and yes we paid $325.00 for that empty seat!
Don't forget to bring something for them to suck on during take off and again for landing!! You can bring an empty sippy cup and buy juice after you go through security! Also, they do NOT charge for the babys car seat when you check it and yes I would check it don't bother bringing it on the plane!
Good luck!


My daughter just returned from a flight with her 19 month old daughter. They did pay the extra fee for my granddaughter. She rode in her carseat! She was much happier, was able to nap, had her carseat available when they got to their destination. It really worked well for them.

good luck

most airlines charge for children 2 and over; I have looked into this for my granddaughter.

You will have to buy the ticket. You will need to take his birth certificate to prove his age and because he is 2 you will be required to buy the ticket.

Sorry for the bad news.

I think this is an FFA rule and airlines must follow it.

Since your child id 2 years old, you have to buy a seat for him even if he does end up sitting in your lap. If he was under 2 that is not required. I'm sorry but you'll have to just shell out the extra cash. Enjoy your trip!

I think that you have to pay for a seat once the kids are two regardless of whether or not they sit in the seat or on your lap. We also had to bring a birth certificate before he was 2, to prove it. Its nice to have the extra space and he might just surprise you and sit in it!

Hi C.,

My son was 2 when we flew to Arizona it was his first flight too....they didn't even give me the option of having him sit on my lap. I'm not sure what the reason was but, I think it was because he needed his own seat belt...so I was charged child fare. I hope everything works out for you and you and your family have a great time where ever you are going.

Hi C.,

I thought I'd share my experience so you would be prepared. I have two children and all the times I've flown with them (older one is 4.5 years old) I have never been asked to provide proof of age until on our last trip. In fact, we flew for Christmas when my son had just turned 2 like 2 weeks prior and I didn't buy him a ticket. When they asked me how old he was I told them he will be 2 the next month and they were fine with it. I believe it was American Airline then. He is not a small 2 since he has been in 90% in height.

Then last month we flew SouthWest Airline. My daughter was 16 months old at the time and she is a small/petite girl. She can't even talk very well. But the guy insisted that I show some form of a document that has her birthdate and her name on it. He said even a prescription would do. Well I didn't have anything on me. So he tells me that I have until the return trip to provide something otherwise they will charge me full roundtrip fare. It was ridiculous. I had to call my pediatrician's office and have them fax me a paper signed by the doctor. Then I had to show that paper when we were checking in for the return trip.

It really stinks that "child fare" is the same as adult fare. So if I were you, especially if you are looking into using Southwest, I would be prepared.

So far I have flown Delta, Jet Blue, Continental and American Airline and Southwest is the only airline that gave me problem.

I hope that helped and I wish you a good trip!


Hi C.,

I understand that once your baby is 2 he has to pay a ticket and you do not have an option of lap or seat, they will charge a seat for him. Apparently is not a matter of size but of age.


I found this information at Continental's website, I am sure that all the airlines have this same type of information and you can look it up.

I know it doesn't feel right and traveling gets more and more expensive!

Good luck and have fun trip!

I think at two years of age they have to sit in their own seat for take off and landing for safety. You can bring on your car seat and attach it for his comfort. I have flown with both my kids since they were infants. You will need the car seat when you get there anyway. Bring the booklet that states it is airline approved as I had issues with that. Bring a drink (in a original container for security reasons) for take-off anding or lollipops. During flight you should be able to move around. Good luck and bring a change of clothes for him and you! Just in case. A bathroom on the flight will have a changing table believe it or not. It is small. :)

I have two kids - a 14 year old and a 15 month old. I have been on several plane rides with both of them and am very familiar with the requirements for traveling with an infant.

Because your son is 2 - you will have to buy a ticket and he will have to be in a seat. You can take a carseat for him to use, which I would recommend since he is small, but he must be in his own seat once he reaches 2 years old.

I am not sure about discounted child fares for travel within the US - most carriers don't offer child fares except for international travel.

Don't freak out - it'll all work out. I have been traveling with my kids since my oldest was 1 and have never had a problem!

My best advice is to be prepared with distractions - food to snack on, drink in a sippy cup, toys, crayons, etc. Have him drink out of a sippy cup or suck on his pacifier during take-off and decent to help pressurize his ears.

Good luck!

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